James Madison University

JMU Graduate Students provide Audiological Services to Special Olympic Athletes

PHOTO: Audiology students

James Madison University graduate students in Audiology and SLP volunteered for hearing screening of athletes participating in the 2012 Special Olympics Virginia Summer Games at the University of Richmond.  The graduate students were able to volunteer through a program called Healthy Hearing.

Healthy Hearing is a discipline of Special Olympics Healthy Athletes®, which was initiated in 1996.  Healthy Hearing began in 1998 and is designed to study the prevalence of hearing loss in athletes competing in Special Olympics events, and to report these findings as a means of highlighting the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  The program also seeks to screen the hearing of athletes; to notify them, their coaches and others if follow-up care is needed; and, whenever possible, to provide follow-up care on site. 

In Richmond, JMU volunteers were able to screen more than 130 athletes, family members, and unified partners.  Referrals were made for middle ear pathologies, which may have gone undiagnosed.

This trip provided an excellent opportunity for JMU students to teach and train athletes, family members and coaches about hearing loss and ear health problems in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Cara Sanderson, a second-year doctoral student in JMU Audiology program said, "Special Olympics 2012 was an enormous success and personally fulfilling. We were able to offer a service to them and share information and knowledge-- it is simply a very fulfilling experience. I am thankful to have shared this with my fellow students-- I cannot wait until next year!"